by Emily Farris, Posted Oct 25th 2010 9:40AM
word, to see the pictures go to the url, great pic of the spider,
What's creeping and crawling in your home this Halloween? More than you might think.
You may no longer be spooked by ghosts or goblins, but we bet you're not too old to be frightened by these creepy, crawly stories. Here are five gross things, both dead and alive, that could be lurking in your home.
Last week, when I took my air conditioning unit out of the window, a bat flew out from under the unit, leaving a pile of feces in my windowsill. Though he wasn't quite in my house, he was still a little too close for comfort.
When I think of bats, I prefer to imagine them in their native habitat: Caves. But attics and other dark, dank places can offer an appealing home for bats. If you have an infestation, they might even move into the walls. This family found hundreds of bats living in the walls of their Houston, Texas house over the summer. And unless you have an infestation like that, you might not even know you have bats in your home.
"People don't really find out they have a bat problem until they see them coming in and out of the house. Or when they're selling their home and an inspector goes up in the attic," says Chris, the owner of Creature Catchers of Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, who declined to give his last name. And if you're lucky enough to only have one bat, "You should play the lotto," jokes Chris. Well, not exactly, but you can relax a little knowing that at the very least that bat is a worthwhile defender from other pests. "Bats eat their body weight in insects in one night," he explains.
If you think you might have an infestation, call a qualified professional to take care of the problem for you, so you don't end up contracting rabies or, worse, Histoplasmosis, a lung infection transmitted by airborne spores.
And if you're curious about bats, check out Bat Pictures from around the world.
Derrick Alderman, Alamy
2. e. Coli
We've all heard the scary stories about the bacteria e. Coli being found on toothbrushes that are kept too close to the toilet. But recent studies found that the kitchen towel is the dirtiest item in many homes and it too, can be a breeding ground for bacterias such as e. Coli.
While I'm not scared enough to switch back to a less-eco-friendly option like paper towels, I'm definitely going to switch out my hand and dish towels more often.
3. Gas and Carbon Monoxide
A few weeks ago, my friend and her husband stopped at my Missouri home on their cross-country road trip. As I was setting them up in the guest room/my boyfriend's man cave, my friend's husband said he smelled gas. I remembered smelling it in that room when I first moved in, and I figured it was a result of turning on the heaters for the first time in a long time. I hadn't really noticed it since.
"Moving into the colder season, a lot of times when folks turn on the furnace they'll smell something musty because it hasn't been operated for a while and think it's a natural gas leak and call us," says Jason Fulp with Missouri Gas Energy (my gas company). "That's okay. Call the gas company any time, whether or not you're sure."
I did just that and 20 minutes later two employees were inspecting every room of my apartment. It turns out that in addition to the gas leak in the guest room (coming from the furnace and leaking through the vent into that room), there was one in the kitchen, coming from the stove.
Because they were small leaks, I hadn't noticed them, but I probably should have. "Natural gas, by nature, is odorless. We insert a chemical called Mercaptan that makes it detectable," says Fulp.
"The best thing you can do if you smell natural gas is leave the house immediately," Fulp says. "Call the gas company from a neighbor's." And because natural gas can be combustible, he warns against calling from inside the house with your cell phone.
Even scarier than a gas leak is carbon monoxide -- a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that's responsible for more than 2,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Unlike gas leaking from a furnace or stove (which you should be able discover with your nose), carbon monoxide requires a detector, which can be found at hardware stores and big box stores for less than $50. If you don't already have one, you should.
And learn more about how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning on DIY Life!
CDC / PHIL, Corbis
4. Brown Recluse Spiders
In nature, Brown Recluse spiders live under rocks, logs and woodpiles. But indoors (a place they seem to like just as much) these scary spiders can live for quite a while without food in attics and basements. When they do come out to feed, they'll find dark secluded areas, like shoes, clothes or beds -- which is why many people get bitten at night.
So why are these particular spiders so scary? Because their bites can cause necrosis -- a localized death of cells. People who have been bitten by Brown Recluse spiders have tales of crater-like scabs, some even wearing down to the bone.
Though bites are rare, in areas where they're most prominent -- the south central and Midwestern United States -- they get around. One study found Brown Recluse spiders in about 70 percent of homes that were sampled in Missouri.
Brown Recluse Spiders are identified by the violin-shaped marking on their backs. But we're warning you: If you Google pictures of them, you'll be sorry.
5. Water and Mold
Sure, everyone has water in their home, but you want it in the right places. When I returned from a week-long vacation a while ago, my dining room ceiling was all over my table. That's because the pipe that ran between my apartment and the one upstairs had a leak, and eventually there was enough water to collapse the ceiling. Even if it doesn't get that bad, a slow drip lurking in your home can lead to mold.
"Anywhere you have moisture and a little bit of warmth, mold is encouraged to grow," says Danie King with AMC Construction and Mold Remediators in Kansas City, Missouri. The most common places you might find mold are the basement, roofs and around pipes, she says.
And mold in your home isn't only gross -- it can lead to stuffiness, and irritated eyes and skin. (More severe reactions include fever and shortness of breath). But everyone reacts differently. "What might make somebody deathly ill might not have any effect on the person standing right next to them," King says. (Read more about the health effects of mold at the CDC's website.)
Luckily, mold is pretty easy to clean up, if you can find it. In most cases, you'll see it or smell something musty. But if you have a headache or cough you just can't shake, you might want to more closely examine your home for mold.
Who says Halloween is only scary for kids? What scary (or gross!) things have you found lurking in your home?